Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who lags far behind Hillary Clinton in African American support, will have some scripted answers to rely on for an interview he’s taping with a black pastor Saturday in his first public appearance before a majority black audience in Detroit.
The New York Times obtained a leaked 8-page script prepared by his campaign that has answers to the 12 questions Bishop Wayne T. Jackson will ask Trump when the candidate pays a visit to Detroit’s Great Faith Ministries International. Trump will sit down for a closed-door session with the pastor, and the interview is expected to air several days later on the Impact Network, Jackson’s cable television channel on the Christian faith.
The interview questions, the Times reported, range from Trump’s relationship with God to views among African American voters that the Republican party can be racist.
The prepared responses are a departure from Trump’s usual diatribes on rival Hillary Clinton’s “bigotry” and negative impacts on black communities.
Instead, Trump is expected to offer up his own optimistic vision for race relations under his administration.
“If we are to make America great again, we must reduce, rather than highlight, issues of race in this country,” Trump is expected to say. “I want to make race disappear as a factor in government and governance.”
To another question posed by Bishop Jackson on whether Trump’s campaign is racist, the candidate is advised not to repeat the word.
“The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” the script says. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.”
And in addressing undecided black voters, the Times noted the script cleaves close to Trump’s usual rhetoric: “If you want a strong partner in this journey, you will vote for me. I will never let you down...By the way, my support is now up to 8 percent and climbing.”
Trump, who has also struggled with answering questions about his faith, is also getting coached on his views about God.
When the candidate is asked “Are you a Christian and do you believe the Bible is an inspired word of God?” the script offers this response from Trump: “As I went through my life, things got busy with business, but my family kept me grounded to the truth and the word of God...I treasure my relationship with my family, and through them, I have a strong faith enriched by an ever-wonderful God.”
While in Detroit, Trump will attend a two-hour church service and is also expected to address the Great Faith Ministries congregation for a few minutes. According to the Times, he will also spend about 30 minutes mingling with church members.